Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Where's Waldo? He's easier to find than NJ's Water Plan


WaldoSince 1987, kids have searched for Waldo, the main character in a series of British children's books created by the English illustrator Martin Handford.

Since 2012, environmentalists have been searching for New Jersey's own version of Waldo, better known as the
Statewide Water Supply Plan.

The British Waldo appears hidden among other characters and objects in pictures at the beach, in foreign locations, and even in the past.

New Jersey's Waldo, the vanished water supply blueprint, likely hasn't traveled very far. Most suspect it’s hidden at the Department of Environmental Protection or in that top-secret, government inner sanctum known as the Governor's Office.

The 2016 drought, that now spans two-thirds of the state, has given environmentalists new cause to demand Waldo's release and they are less amused than ever by all the hide and seek.

NJ Spotlight's Tom Johnson has the details:

As New Jersey’s drought worsens, state advisers on water supply are renewing their call on the Christie administration to release a blueprint for water planning that has not been publicly updated since 1996 despite a legal requirement to do so every five years.
The Water Supply Advisory Council, a group of water company executives, nonprofits, and water users, is expected to urge Gov. Chris Christie and Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin to publish a new version of the Statewide Water Supply Plan that was submitted to the governor’s office in 2012 and has not been seen in public since.
Council members and many other water-supply advocates have been arguing for years that it’s not possible to plan for development without a statewide plan that anticipates where and how much water will be needed, and how its quantity and quality can be sustained for the good of consumers, businesses and the environment.
Now, advocates say the ongoing drought makes it more urgent that the state has a coordinated strategy to make it easier to avoid water shortages in affected areas, lessen impacts on water quality from sewage-treatment plants, and ease environmental stresses in areas suffering from low rainfall.
The council’s new call for publication of the plan, agreed at a meeting on November 18, follows an attempt in April 2015 which was rejected by state officials.
“We have embarrassed the executive branch on numerous occasions but they just don’t seem to care,” said Sen. Bob Smith (D-Middlesex), chairman of the Environment and Energy  Committee. “I don’t know what he’s trying to do other than avoiding reality,” he said, referring to Gov. Chris Christie.

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Smith said the lack of an updated plan makes water supply vulnerable to many changes such as saltwater intrusion, lead in school water supplies, and the presence of the toxic chemical chromium 6 in some public water systems that have become known since the last report was published 20 years ago.

“It should be the overall planning document for the expansion of water supply, for the protection of existing supply, and it should weigh up the infrastructure needs,” Smith said. “You’ve got to protect your water or human beings aren’t going to do real well.”
Smith’s committee had previously called on Gov. Christie for publication of an updated plan but to no avail, he said.
It’s unclear whether the latest version of the plan is in the governor’ office, or is undergoing another update at the DEP. Brian Murray, a spokesman for Christie, declined to say why the plan hasn’t been publicly updated since 1996; whether it is still in the governor’s office, and whether there are any plans for its release.
Murray referred questions on the plan to the DEP, whose spokesman, Bob Considine, said staff there are “still gathering the most updated data” for the plan.

“We are managing New Jersey’s water supply every day while developing the draft Water Supply Plan,” Considine wrote in an mail. “When the draft plan is complete and ready for public comment, we will release it and schedule public hearings.”

Read the full story here

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